Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Board Races Taking Shape||
| By Lookout Staff
July 18, 2016 -- The races for eight open seats on Santa Monica's three elected boards are taking shape, as candidates can begin filing nomination papers on Monday.
With at least one open seat in the the race for Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District Board (SMMUSD), Ralph Mechur is the only veteran school board member who has confirmed he will run in November.
Mechur, who is technically not an elected incumbent since he currently serves as an appointee, had been an elected board member since 2008, but was defeated in 2014. Not long after, he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Ben Allen, who was elected to the State Senate.
Four-term Board member Jose Escarce has said he would not run. Fellow Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez, who like Escarce has served four terms, has not indicated whether she would run for re-election.
So far, there is one announced challenger--12-year district volunteer Jon Kean (“Santa Monica Education Activist Plans School Board Run,” March 28, 2016).l
Escarce's decision not to seek re-election increases the chances for Kean, who will court an electorate that has traditionally chosen incumbents. Since 1994, only four incumbents have failed to win reelection.
All three Santa Monica College (SMC) incumbents facing re-election are running. Those incumbents--Rob Rader, Susan Aminoff and Margaret Quinones-Perez--did not face a challenger in 2012.
They have at least one challenger this time. SMC adjunct professor and cardiologist Sion Roy announced in May that he would run for a seat on the seven-member board(“Santa Monica College Board Election Takes Shape,” May 10, 2016).
SMC board elections do not often attract many candidates. There were no challengers in 2010 or 2012 elections, and only two challengers ran for four open seats two years ago.
Santa Monica voters are not the only ones deciding the College Board race. The SMC District includes Malibu as well as some unincorporated areas.
There are also two Rent Control Board seats up for grabs. Neither the elected incumbent Christopher Walton nor the appointed incumbent Anastasia Foster have announced their intentions. No challenger has yet to announce.
Rent Board races draw few candidates, and the winners have almost always been endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR). The only exception was the election of Robert Kronovet, a Republican and landlord who shocked political observers by winning a seat in 2008 ("Republican Landlord Could Make History," November 26, 2008).
He is the only candidate to win a seat without the tenant group's endorsement in the board's nearly 40-year history.
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